James Moran joined ALL MARINE RADIO to discuss the non-profit organization that he founded called the Bar-X Project whose mission is: To reunite combat wounded veterans with Marines from their former units in order to reestablish the special bond forged during combat and set these veterans up for success in their future endeavors in the civilian world.
The Bar-X Project accomplishes this by: Providing our wounded warriors an all-expense paid fly-fishing trips to Montana, where the Marines stay at fly fishing lodges and cabins graciously donated by friends of The Bar X Project.
The program began at the Bar X Ranch owned by the Lowe family of Montana. The ranch sits on 300+ acres along the Yellowstone River. The Lowes continue to host Marines each year, even as we have expanded with trips a number of other lodges across the beautiful state of Montana.
On Day 1, the Marines fly into Montana and get settled in, reuniting with their buddies and catching up on old times. On Day 2, local guides volunteer their time and drift boats to guide the Marines down the river, where they learn the art of fly-fishing and enjoy the peacefulness of the vast American West.
Flights are paid for by StrongPoint Holdings LLC and a number of other donors. A local outfitter, Wild Fly Angler, provides fly rods at cost and they are purchased by J.R. Reger (local Montana supporter of veterans). At the conclusion of the weekend, each Marine gets to keep their fly rod.
These trips began in 2011 and have continued annually ever since. The Marines selected to participate in these trips have come from the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment for the first two iterations. After the first two trips, wounded Marines have been sought out from units in which the founders served or through a reference of a wounded Marine in need.
As we know all too well, there is no shortage of wounded Marines from the past 18+ years of war. Our goal is to bring Marines out in buddy pairs in order to reunite Marines that endured a traumatic event together overseas. Our organization also brings out Marines who have been wounded or struggled with PTSD and overcame it.
Our hope is to provide examples of success stories from fellow Marines who have endured similar injuries or struggles and who can provide guidance and counseling to those in need. We do a fireside chat the last night before dinner to discuss current world events, transitioning into civilian life, the Department of Veterans Affairs, job opportunities, along with benefits such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Our older Marines serve as a great example for the young Marines and are a good resource for them to stay in touch with at the conclusion of the weekend. The feedback received from the Marines who have attended these trips has been overwhelming and provide the motivation to continue these trips indefinitely.
I believe that the Bar-X Project will be the prototype for ALL veteran weekend programs in the future.